Townsend extends Scotland deal

Gregor Townsend has extended his contract as Scotland head coach through to 2021 after leading the team to their best Six Nations finish in 18 years.

Gregor Townsend has extended his contract as Scotland head coach through to 2021 after leading the team to their best Six Nations finish in 18 years.

The former fly-half or centre took over as coach of the national team in 2017, replacing Vern Cotter, and made an immediate impression in his first Championship in charge.

Scotland earned home wins over both France and England, the latter their first Calcutta Cup success in a decade, while also winning on the final day away to Italy.

That secured third place in the table, equalling their best finish since they won the title in 1999 in the final edition of the Championship before Italy joined.

And Townsend, who won 82 caps for Scotland and also toured with the British & Irish Lions in 1997, expressed his excitement at building on his first year in charge alongside assistant coaches Matt Taylor and Mike Blair, who have also signed extensions.

Townsend said: “I have always been incredibly proud to coach Scotland and I’m delighted and grateful to be able to extend my involvement with the national team.

“It’s a privilege to coach such a hardworking group of quality players, which is continuing to grow in depth.

“It’s great that the immediate future of our coaching staff has also been secured, as Matt (Taylor) and Mike (Blair) contribute massively to what we do as a group.

“We are really looking forward to Danny (Wilson) joining up with us, which will enable us to seek further improvements in how we can bring the best out of our players.

“There’s certainly a lot of improvement to be found – both from us as coaches and also our playing performances – but we’ve also seen some excellent displays over the past season, as well as a genuine desire from the players to give their best for their country.

“I’ve been really pleased with the way the squad has come together whenever we’ve been in camp. The players have built strong relationships with each other, trained with intensity and learned quickly after any setbacks we have faced. They have also been terrific ambassadors for their country on tours or whenever they have interacted with our supporters.

“We’re well aware we’re entering a crucial and exciting time for this group, as we continue to seek improvements across the board and target a strong Autumn Test series and Six Nations, before our build up to the Rugby World Cup begins in earnest.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time for the sport in Scotland.”

Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Dodson added: “I’m delighted that Gregor has decided to continue as Scotland head coach until 2021.

“I was convinced that Gregor was going to make an outstanding head coach for Scotland and we’re delighted to have secured his services for the next three years, at a very exciting time for Scottish Rugby.

“It was also important to maintain the high-level continuity created with the other world-class coaches within the national team set-up in Matt Taylor and Mike Blair and I’m very pleased they will continue to work alongside Gregor through to, and beyond, Rugby World Cup 2019.”